Bill and Marks Ukranian Mini

August 2002

Pictures and commentary by
Mark Hilton & Bill Moeller

State Opera House in
Odessa, Ukraine.
Cathedral of St. Andrews
"Mother Russia"
One of the Onion domed
Russian Orthodox churches in
Odessa near our hotel.
Partisan Memorial
Babysan and Natisha
(Can Boris be far behind)


"Moy Brat" is Russian for "My Brother"
- Bill Moeller


The following is the after action report of two glorious weeks spent on the road with Moy Brat Mark (Babysan) Hilton, while visiting the former Russian state of Ukraine.

Thanks Walker for the recent encouragement to write about these escapades.

Our journey actually begun Sept. 30th 2001 at the Jacksonville, Florida mini reunion when Tom Meade, former D-Trooper 1/9th 1969/70 invited us to visit him in Odessa, Ukraine. People we have told about the trip ask why Ukraine? Our reply has been because its there and we had this invitation. Tom has a farm equipment import business in Odessa. He also does contract cutting for the co-op farmers. He cuts wheat, barley and soy beans from Odessa, north to Kiev. In the ten years of doing business there, Tom has become well connected.

In order to get to Odessa you have to travel through Kiev, Ukraine's capital. Because of the mass of things to do, and the places to go in Kiev, Tom suggested we spend a week there before meeting him in Odessa. Early October of last year he gave me the email address of Victoria, a lady in Kiev who he said will make our trip worth the effort. He was correct, she took care of everything from taxi's to renting an apartment for us on the famed Khneschatyk street in the old part of the city. This part of town, called city center was completely destroyed in WW II. Victoria even introduced us to tour guides who spoke english as well as anybody.

We were immediately captured by the beauty of Ukraine. Not only by its picturesque nature and amiable and kind people, but by the want of these people for a new world. The city is a mixture of old Russian rule sprouting a younger fresher 21st century atmosphere. The young people we met want western world change to come to their land, while the old hard communist liners want no change at all. We were told that it was said to the young that " you may have won your independence but we still rule." Kiev is one of the great capitals of Europe, but still has roads with pot holes deep enough to burst the tires of a jeep with one pass. Kiev has some of the dirtiest Lorries belching thick black clouds of dirty smoke as they trundle around the city, this includes the city bus system as well. So many of the service's of the city are a throwback to the communist era.

Before leaving for the Ukraine I spent many hours on the internet printing out things to see and do while there. For Kiev alone I had 17pages of things to see. In Kiev the past and the present intertwine in harmony...Kiev's vista's are boundless. We were able to see only a handful of what is there. We did see the Golden gates, the principalceremonial entry into old Kiev. It was restored to its original condition of the 11th century. We saw the cathedral's of Saint Michael,Saint Andrews, the cathedral of the golden domes, the trade union house and the post office in Nezalezhnosti square, each building had the hammer and sickle on it. We saw Mariinsky Palace, the official residence of the president of Ukraine, it was designed in the 18th entury. We also visited the eternal glory park and the grave of the unknown soldier, but by far the half day spent at the grate Patriotic War Museum was in itself reason to return to Kiev.

The Grate Patriotic War Museum is the only thing like it on earth that I know of. No where in the United States do we have a dedication like this to our fallen comrades. The museum was dedicated to the grate patriotic war of 1941 - 1945, WW II. In recent years they added a section depicting their Vietnam war, Afghanistan, 1989 - 1999. The memorial complex sits on the slopes of a mountain and overlooks the Dnieper River and the city below. The memorial complex joins together a number of majestic commemorative buildings. The museum itself is located at the base of the statue of mother Russia. From the base of the museum to the top of the statue is 335 feet. In comparison the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet from its base to the top. The museum houses 16 exhibitions rooms covering a total area of more then 32,800 sq. ft. There are 15,000 museum items related to the events of WW II. They have what is called the war road. It is a road you follow through the museum that is made from the materials dating to the war itself. The road starts with Ukraine first encounter of the war to the final days of it. One of the most impressive displays was the table of death. This table snaked left and right through one of the 16 rooms. On the right side of the table were glasses of vodka, on the left side were canteens and personal effects of fallen soldiers. Every morning the women of the city and villages would come to the table and look for their love ones effects. If they found them they would drink the vodka as a tribute to their passing.

For a cyber tour of this magnificent memorial, go to. Click on Russia's war in Afghanistan, then click on Kiev war memorials - photographs by Chuck Atkers located center of the page about 1/3 of the way down the page.

On Saturday the 17th we were sorry to have to say good buy to the new friends we met in Kiev. Especially the new Mrs. Babysan, a cute one she is. We flew down to Odessa to meet Tom on a aircraft that any good TI would nix for bad tires alone. The airline was called Aerosvit, but for $55.00 round trip we took the chance. In Odessa, at the gate, stood Tom with two of the most beautiful girls you have ever seen. Tom introduced us to Tonya and Tanya. Tonya is to be our interpreter and tour guide while in Odessa. Tanya is Tom's office director and the next Mrs. Bill. She was to take care of all of the details like hotel rooms, taxi's and ballet tickets. Between the two of them we wanted for nothing. Odessa is a resort town on the north side of the Black Sea. Its called the pearl of the Black Sea and is the most charming town I've ever been in. The buildings , car's, truck's and buses all date back to the late 1940's. I made the statement of when the world ends I want to be in Odessa. The end will take place 60 years later. Like Kiev, the food was out of this world and the people were most curious about us. They especially wanted to know where we were during the events of 9/11.

And like Kiev we tried to see all there is to see, but never touched the surface. Although, I did for fill a age old passion to swim in the Black Sea. We saw everything from the opera house, to the zoo, to the port of Odessa. One night Mark and Tom almost got arrested for being out after curfew. They paid a "SKIVE" a fine to the attending law men who were trying to arrest them. All of this was going on while Tanya was showing me the culture of the city. : -)

On the 22nd we left Odessa with tears in our eyes knowing it will be while before we see our new friends again. We spent that night in Kiev, I in a hotel at the airport and Babysan downtown. : - ) It took us two days to get back to Washington with an uneventful night in Frankfurt.

In the car driving from Washington airport we made a promise to each other that we will go back some day to see the new friends we made and see the things we did not. That promise is so strong that we both enrolled in a Russian speaking class. We meet every Monday after work for dinner and I copy Marks homework before we go off to class.

Thanks Mark and Tom for one of the most remembered times of my life. I especially thank you both for being "Moy Brat".